Note:

Looking for GPU help for Photoshop CC? See Photoshop CC GPU FAQ and Troubleshoot Photoshop CC GPU and graphics driver issues.

Introduction

This document provides a quick reference guide to video card usage in Photoshop. Some features require a compatible video card. If the video card or its driver is defective or unsupported, those features don't work. Other features use the video card for acceleration; if the card or driver is defective, those features run slowly.

Graphics hardware not officially supported message

Photoshop Graphics hardware not officially supported message

Have you recently installed Windows 8?

If you are having any video issues after installing or using Windows 8, update your video drivers.

For instructions on updating your video card, see these TechNotes:

Windows 7/Vista

Windows XP

Get updates directly from the video card manufacturer:

Windows

For Nvidia video adapters, go to the Nvidia website.

For AMD/ATI video adapters, go to the AMD website.

For Intel video adapters, go to the Intel website.

Note: Be sure to choose the correct driver. Notebook drivers sometimes have a different name than similar desktop drivers.

Mac OS X

For Nvidia video cards, go to the Nvidia website.

Note: Some video adapter manufacturers have other software that requires updating in addition to the video driver. Read the update instructions carefully, and contact the video adapter manufacturer directly if you find something you're unclear on.

Tested video cards for Photoshop CS6

Adobe tested the following video cards before the release of Photoshop CS6­. This document lists the video card by series. The minimum amount of RAM supported on video cards for Photoshop CS6 is 256 MB. Photoshop 13.1 cannot display 3D features if you have less than 512 MB of VRAM on your video card.

Important: This document is updated as newly released cards are tested. However, Adobe cannot test all cards in a timely manner. If a video card is not listed here, but was released after May 2012, you can assume that the card will work with Photoshop CS6.

Adobe tested laptop and desktop versions of the following cards. Be sure to download the latest driver for your specific model. (Laptop and desktop versions have slightly different names.)

nVidia GeForce 8000, 9000, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 series

nVidia Quadro 400, 600, 2000, 4000 (Mac & Win), CX, 5000, 6000, K600, K2000, K4000, K5000 (Windows & Mac OS)

AMD/ATI Radeon 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000 series

AMD/ATI FirePro 3800, 4800, 5800, 7800, 8800, 9800, 3900, 4900, 5900, 7900

AMD/ATI FireGL W5000, W7000, W8000

Intel Intel HD Graphics, Intel HD Graphics P3000, Intel HD Graphics P4000, Intel(R) HD Graphics P4600/P4700

Note: ATI X1000 series and nVidia 7000 series cards are no longer being tested and are not officially supported in Photoshop CS6. However, some basic GL functionality can be available for both these cards.

Are you using more than one video card?

Multiple video adapters can cause problems with GPU-accelerated or enabled features in Photoshop. It's best to connect two (or more) monitors into one video adapter. If you have to use more than one video adapter, make sure that they are the same make and model.
Otherwise, crashes and other problems can occur in Photoshop.

Note: Using more than one video adapter does not enhance Photoshop's performance.

Problems with Oil Paint Filter

If the Oil Paint Filter doesn't work for you, first go to the section of this TechNote below entitled Tested Video Cards in Photoshop CS6. Use this information to determine if Photoshop supports your video card.

If your video card is supported, update the video card driver to the most recent version. See Step 3 in the Quick GPU Troubleshooting Steps section below for instructions and links.

Mercury Graphics Engine

The Mercury Graphics Engine (MGE) represents features that use video card processor, or GPU, acceleration. In Photoshop CS6, this new engine delivers near-instant results when editing with key tools such as Liquify, Warp, Lighting Effects, and the Oil Paint filter. The new MGE delivers unprecedented responsiveness for a fluid feel as you work.

MGE is new to Photoshop CS6 and uses both the OpenGL and OpenCL frameworks. It does not use the proprietary CUDA framework from nVidia.

MGE requires a supported video card and updated driver. If you do not have a supported card, performance is degraded. Usually, the acceleration is lost and the feature runs in the normal CPU mode. However, there are some features that don't work without a supported video card.

Minimum display requirements

  • 1024x768 display (1280x800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB of VRAM
  • To use OpenGL acceleration, your system must support OpenGL v2.0 and Shader Model 3.0 or later
  • To use OpenCL acceleration, your system must support OpenCL v1.1 or later

Note: For a list of video cards that support OpenCL on Mac OS, see the following:

GPU-enhanced features added in Photoshop CS6

  • Adaptive Wide Angle Filter (compatible video card required)
  • Liquify (accelerated with compatible video card with 512 MB of VRAM)
  • Oil Paint (compatible video card required)
  • Warp and Puppet Warp (accelerated with compatible video card)
  • Field Blur, Iris Blur, and Tilt/Shift (accelerated with compatible video card supporting OpenCL)
  • Lighting Effects Gallery (compatible video card required with 512 MB
    of VRAM)
  • New 3D enhancements (3D features in Photoshop require a compatible video card with 512 MB of VRAM):
    • Draggable Shadows
    • Ground plane reflections
    • Roughness
    • On-canvas user interface controls
    • Ground plane
    • Light widgets on edge of canvas
    • IBL (image-based light) controller

GPU features added in previous versions Photoshop

  • Scrubby Zoom. See Zoom continuously.
  • Heads Up Display (HUD) color picker. See Choose a color while painting.
  • Color sampling ring. See Choose colors with the Eyedropper tool.
  • Brush dynamic resize and hardness control. 
  • Bristle Brush tip previews. See Bristle tip shape options.
  • Rule of thirds crop grid overlay. See Crop images.
  • Zoom enhancements. Smooth display at all zoom levels and temporary zoom. See Zoom continuously and Temporarily zoom an image.
  • Animated transitions for one-stop zoom. Press Ctrl+Plus Sign (Windows) or Command+Plus Sign to zoom, and the image animates slightly between zoom levels. The zoom can be subtle.
  • Flick-panning. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS). In the General panel, select Enable Flick Panning. Then, select the Hand tool and click-flick the image, like a flick gesture on an iPhone. The image glides smoothly to the new position.
  • Rotate the canvas. See Use the Rotate View tool.
  • View nonsquare pixel images. See Adjust pixel aspect ratio.
  • Pixel grid. A pixel grid appears when zooming in more than 500% on an image. See Hide the pixel grid.
  • Adobe Color Engine (ACE). Color conversions are faster because the GPU handles the processing instead of the CPU.
  • Draw Brush tip cursors. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS). In the Cursors panel, choose a Brush Preview color. Then, when you interactively adjust the size or hardness of the Brush tool, the preview color displays the change in real time.

Adobe Bridge GPU features

  • Preview panel
  • Full-screen preview
  • Review mode

See Preview and compare images in Adobe Bridge CS6 Help for information on all these features.

GPU/OpenGL preferences in Photoshop CS6

The advantages of using a compatible video card (GPU) with Photoshop are that you can experience better performance and more features. Problems can occur if you have an older video card with limited VRAM. They can also occur if you use other programs that use the GPU at the same time as Photoshop.

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS).

  2. In the Performance panel, make sure that Use Graphics Processor is selected in GPU Settings.

  3. Click Advanced Settings and specify the following options:

    Mode > Basic

    Uses the least amount of GPU memory and enables basic OpenGL features.

    Mode > Normal

    Uses more GPU memory and enables GPU-based color matching, tone mapping, and checkerboard blending.

    Mode > Advanced

    Provides the benefits of Normal mode and newer OpenGL advances that can result in improved performance.

    Use Graphics Processor

    to Accelerate Computation

    Use OpenCL

    Uses the GPU to accelerate the new blur filters (Field Blur, Iris Blur, and Tilt-Shift). OpenCL is only available on newer GPUs that support OpenCL v1.1 or later.

    Anti-Alias Guides And Paths

    Allows the GPU hardware to smooth the edges of drawn guides and paths.

    30-bit Display (Windows only) Allows Photoshop to display 30-bit data directly to screen on video cards that support it 

    Note:

    Note: 30-bit display is not functioning correctly with current drivers. We are working to address this issue as soon as possible

Quick GPU troubleshooting steps

You can experience problems such as artifacts, errors, and crashes if there are incompatibilities between Photoshop and the display components that access the GPU.

If you experience crashes, incorrectly rendered windows or objects, redraw issues, or performance issues, determine whether OpenGL is causing the problem.

1. Turn off OpenGL.

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS).
  2. In the Performance panel, deselect Use Graphics Processor. Click OK.
  3. Restart Photoshop, and perform the same function.

If the problem recurs while OpenGL Drawing is disabled, OpenGL is not the cause. For additional troubleshooting, see Troubleshoot system errors and freezes | Adobe software on Windows or Troubleshoot system errors and freezes | Adobe software on Mac OS 10.x.

If the problem resolves, proceed with the rest of the troubleshooting steps to fix OpenGL.

2. Make sure that you're using the latest update of Photoshop.

Updates fix bugs and issues.

3. Update the display driver.

Updated display drivers can fix many issues, such as crashing, incorrectly rendered objects, and performance problems. See Update the video display driver. Then, turn on Use Graphics Processor in Photoshop preferences.

To update the display driver on Windows 7 or Vista, use this TechNote.

To update the display driver on Windows XP, use this TechNote.

4. Reset preferences.

Resetting preferences returns OpenGL settings to their default status. Reset Photoshop preferences by  pressing and holding Shift+Ctrl+Alt (Windows) or Shift+Option+Command (Mac OS) immediately after you start Photoshop. Click Yes when asked if you want to delete the Adobe Photoshop Settings File. Retry the function that caused the problem.

5. Change the OpenGL mode to Basic.

Setting the OpenGL mode to Basic uses the least amount of GPU memory and the most basic GPU feature set.

  1. Close all documents.
  2. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS).
  3. In the Performance panel, click GPU Settings Advanced Settings.
  4. Choose Mode > Basic.
  5. Restart Photoshop. 

If this solution resolves the problem, switch to Normal mode. See if the issue recurs. If the issue recurs, return to Basic mode.

Note: If you’re changing GPU preferences to troubleshoot a problem, relaunch Photoshop after each change.

6. If you are using more than one video adapter, remove the additional cards.

Multiple video adapters can cause problems with GPU-accelerated or enabled features in Photoshop. It's best to connect two (or more) monitors into one video adapter. If you have to use more than one video adapter, make sure that they are the same make and model.
Otherwise, crashes and other problems can occur in Photoshop.

Note:

Using two video adapters does not enhance Photoshop's performance.

7. Check your Cache Levels setting.

If you've set your Cache Levels to 1 in Photoshop preferences, you can experience performance issues with GPU features. Reset Cache Levels to the default setting, which is 4.

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences > Performance (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS)
  2. In the Performance panel, choose Cache Levels > 4.

The GPU Sniffer

To help guard against Photoshop crashes related to bad GPU hardware or drivers, Photoshop employs a small program called the GPU Sniffer. Every time Photoshop launches, Photoshop launches the sniffer. The sniffer runs rudimentary tests of the GPU and reports the results to Photoshop. If the sniffer crashes or reports a failure status to Photoshop, Photoshop doesn't use the GPU. The Use Graphics Hardware checkbox in the Performance panel of the Preferences is deselected and disabled.

The first time the sniffer fails, Photoshop displays a dialog indicating that it has detected a problem with the GPU. On subsequent launches, the dialog doesn't appear.

If you correct the problem, either by replacing the video card or by updating the driver, then the sniffer passes on the next launch. The Use Graphics Hardware checkbox is enabled and returned to its previous state (enabled or disabled).

Additional resources

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License  Twitter™ and Facebook posts are not covered under the terms of Creative Commons.

Legal Notices   |   Online Privacy Policy